Facebook updates, iPhone 4S, Google+ search… innovative or yawn inducing?
Yes, the new iPhone 4S was just announced and, yes, Facebook rolled out like a kabillion new features. Did anyone notice that both of these announcements were not about new game changing innovations, rather each was about keeping up with the competition?
For instance, Facebook added video calling integration, list management, categorized news feeds, subscriptions, a sidebar and a timeline feature. Video calling isn’t new, it is a quick response to Google+’s Hangout feature (via ReelSEO.com). The new list management is clearly in response to Google+’s Circles implementation. And the new categorized newsfeeds is maybe a combination of Gmail priority inbox or Google+ news viewed by Circles. The new Facebook subscriptions and sidebar seems like a Twitter follow and news feed wannabe and, IMHO, annoying. The timeline features is compelling but it isn’t new, it’s just new to Facebook.
Looking at the new iPhone 4S, Apple announced several new features. Dual core processor, Siri voice activation, iCloud wireless storage and an updated notification system. HTC, Motorola and Samsung have had duel core phones since last year. Android has had over-the-air updates and the ability to connect to any number of over-the-air storage services since it was first released. The new iOS5 notification implementation is an effort to mimic the Android notification system. Siri is interesting, while Google has a voice activated system, Siri presents as a natural language tool, so here, maybe Apple is about to leapfrog. Still, voice commands have been on the Android handsets for a while.
Over at Google blog, Google has announced all kinds of new features. Google+ has opened it’s beta to everyone with some estimates putting its user base at around 50MM. Hangouts on mobile devices – I tried this on my Motorola Atrix and it is cool… way cool. And they added search – so now you can search for users, search for content, and, the most significant addition, your posts show up in Google’s search results.
Still, social (like Facebook) and marketing (like Apple) are not core to Google – it’s an engineering company. Why else would they rollout out their coolest new social tool to everyone EXCEPT Google Apps users – yes, their paying clients, their earliest of early adopters, their biggest fanboys and fangirls. I’m interested to see how Hangouts change the way people interact in offices and virtual teams. If they don’t get this to their paid business users and early adopters, what’s the use of the innovation?
Android is holding its own against iOS devices with RIM fading fast. Google+, while innovative and picking up new users, has a significant task ahead if it plans to oust Facebook with its 700 million users. Still, these are interesting times when we see the “old” standard bearers challenged by “new” entrants to the market and each rolling out new innovations to keep up. When companies engage in innovation wars, we will all benefit. If Google gets its act together, Facebook keeps responding creatively and Apple rolls out an amazing iPhone 5, the next six months are going to be a wild ride.